Silver Stars-Mercury Preview
The San Antonio Silver Stars keep rolling along.
The Phoenix Mercury can't get anything going.
San Antonio looks to extend its franchise-best winning streak to 11 on Sunday when the host Mercury try to avoid a team-record eighth straight defeat.
In their first game back from the league's month-long Olympic break, the Silver Stars (14-5) beat league-worst Tulsa 89-79 on Friday to remain undefeated since losing at Seattle on June 22.
San Antonio, second in the Western Conference behind defending champion Minnesota, was led by Sophia Young's 20 points while the guard trio of Becky Hammon, Danielle Robinson and Jia Perkins combined for 47.
"We don't get rattled too much," Robinson said after a game which the Silver Stars trailed entering the fourth quarter.
During the 10-game win streak, Hammon is averaging 17.0 points and 6.3 assists, Robinson is scoring 10.3 points per game and Perkins is averaging 13.6 while hitting 24 of 47 from 3-point range.
"They are a good backcourt," Shock coach Gary Kloppenburg said. "You've got Hammon who can shoot from anywhere and Robinson who can make the mid-range shot. And with Perkins off the bench, they are probably the best backcourt in the league."
Mercury coach Corey Gaines doesn't need to be reminded of how well the 35-year-old Hammon can still get the job done. She scored 17 of her 22 points in the second half of an 82-81 home win over Phoenix on July 3 after recording season highs with seven 3s and 30 points in an 85-66 victory over the Mercury on June 1.
"Becky has still got it," Gaines said after the team's first meeting of 2012. "She may be a little long in the tooth, but she can still go."
The same can't be said of the Mercury (4-16), who have gone from the league's top offensive team of 2011 to one of the worst this season. Phoenix missed 41 of 66 shots and committed 19 turnovers in Thursday's 72-58 loss at Seattle.
DeWanna Bonner had a season-low seven points on 3-of-18 shooting for the Mercury, who are last in the league in field-goal percentage (38.6) and 3-point percentage (29.5).
"We've been trying to find our rhythm all year, and the injuries don't help," Gaines said.
Candice Dupree and Charde Houston are both out following knee surgeries during the Olympic hiatus, but the possible return of Diana Taurasi could provide a big lift. Limited to two games this season due to a strained hip flexor, Taurasi was not with Phoenix on Thursday after a delayed return from London, where she scored a team-high 12.4 points per game to help the U.S. win gold.
The Mercury, who also will try to avoid a franchise-record fifth consecutive home loss, won 87-81 in the Silver Stars' last game in the desert Aug. 20.
San Antonio, though, has won a team-record six consecutive road games.